With all the technology innovation coming out of United States right now, few inventions seem to make it onto the sales floors of mass market electronics retailers. That might be changing soon, though, as RadioShack recently announced a move that will give startups looking for a major retail channel the breakthrough they’ve been waiting for. Providing access to the retailer’s distribution network and in-store presence, the RadioShack Labs program has evolved from a partnership with PCH International Ltd., an Irish company that helps connect entrepreneurs and product developers with manufacturers in China.
RadioShack is allowing unknown products from startups to hit their brick-and-mortar operation the same way a capsule collection would in fashion: It’s a low inventory operation that aims to diversify RadioShack’s current product lines, while testing the waters for future operations and new categories. The startups’ products will go straight to showrooms, giving customers more reasons to increase time spent in-store.
Having taken some financial hits in the past few years thanks to emerging e-Commerce sites, RadioShack might be onto something this time around. Silicon Valley’s ties to pop culture have never been more relevant, so incorporating a startup-centric approach to its business is an auspicious beginning. There are multiple benefits to this endeavor. First of all, RadioShack’s bottom line is impacted immediately through the sale of the new products. Longer term, they’re laying the groundwork for a model that can regularly draw upon more diverse offerings, a stronger partnership record and greater levels of innovation.
Other happenings at RadioShack
The retailer also started a RadioShack Invention Challenge a few months ago to encourage inventors to submit their ideas for smart toys through the production service/website Quirky. The winning product will be sold in stores as well, furthering the offerings from smaller manufacturers available in RadioShack locations.
RadioShack’s recent endeavors within the startup sector may be a top-down attempt at reforming its entire approach to business – and to be more in step with a very different consumer than the company originally built itself around in 1921. The retailer has a very timely opportunity to take reinvent itself from being purely a sales floor to becoming a knowledge center, where customers can find out more about emerging technologies and have their questions answered by experts instead of Google. Of course, only time will tell if this is a successful strategy, but as far as we can tell, startup/corporate collaborations are already on the rise as indicated by Mondelez, Whole Foods and more.
I love reading about “the big guys helping the little guys,” especially when it comes to startups and emerging tech. RadioShack’s partnership with PCH demonstrates how easy it can be to drive innovation, sales and growth at the same time. What’s your plan to make the most of startup innovation?